Your body is your vehicle and you must keep the engine running at all times, especially when you work out. In order to run well, a healthy engine needs the right fuel, in the right amounts, at the right times. While it might seem like a lot of work to constantly be thinking about what you’re consuming, it’s actually not hard at all! (Did we mention the potential results? Hello, dream body!)
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, “adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time. Also, athletes should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses.”
While you don’t necessarily need to adhere to a strict schedule, consciously consuming before and after exercise can help you feel (and look) better over time. Here are some tips to get you started on the right foot:
Not fueling up before you work out is basically like trying to drive a car that’s run out of gas. You won’t have the energy it takes to make the most of your workout, which will limit your ability to burn calories.
Ideally, you should start fueling up two hours prior to your workout. What we recommend:
Hydrate with water Eat healthy carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Avoid saturated fats. Saturated fats take longer to digest, hogging much-needed oxygen and energy-delivering blood flow from your muscles.
5-10 minutes before you exercise, you can eat a piece of fruit (an apple or a banana works perfectly, as they are easily digested carbs) and give your body the extra boost it needs.
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete training for several hours or someone who is reintroducing their body into a low to moderate workout routine, it is important to keep hydrated with small, frequent sips of water.
For workouts lasting up to an hour, we suggest avoiding eating. However, for longer, high intensity, and vigorous workouts, it is recommended to ingest 50-100 calories worth of carbohydrates every half hour.
Post-workout, it’s important to replenish your body’s nutrients in order to facilitate a quick and effective physical recovery.
Drink lots of fluids to rehydrate yourself. You can blend your water with 100% juice, such as orange juice, to regain energy-boosting carbohydrates. More carbs! Remember, you’ll be burning a lot of carbohydrates (the main fuel for your muscles) when you workout. Proteins: the fundamental building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and even blood. Besides, your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. Without it, your muscles wouldn’t be able to repair themselves and grow. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Pretty necessary as you can see! Foods like seafood, white-meat poultry, eggs, and beans are great sources where you can get your protein from. Do what works for YOU. Everyone’s body is different, which makes getting to know yours extremely important. While giving your workout 100% will always be the most effective, make sure to also listen to your body to avoid going overboard. Rest in a way that best suits your physical need post-exercise.
1)Oatmeal: Whether for breakfast or a midday snack, a simple bowl of oats is the perfect way to jumpstart your day or keep your going. Oatmeal’s low-glycemic index and high fiber content digests slowly, allowing you to use that saved-up energy throughout your day.The best part? It won’t cause you to crash like with other caffeine and sugar-heavy beverages and snacks.
2)Dark Chocolate: Every chocolate lover should know this. Even though most of us consider chocolate to be a guilty pleasure, it is actually quite nutritious. A single ounce of dark chocolate is packed with immune-boosting nutrients and flavonoids (powerful antioxidants that protect the cells that make up your body). Dark chocolate is also rich in theobromine, a natural stimulant similar to caffeine, which can boost energy.Additionally, it can stimulate serotonin (a mood-boosting chemical messenger) that can keep us going and feeling good.
Tip: Try mixing dark chocolate chips with a classic bowl of oats and make it a win-win!
3)Whole Wheat Bread with Peanut Butter: Another overlooked gemstone in nutrition and one of the best fitness snacks out there. Here’s why: eating a diet rich in whole grains can reduce your risk of heart disease by 25-28% and type 2 diabetes by 21-30%. Complex carbs present in grain bread are the best types for prolonged energy. Top it off with some peanut butter, an excellent protein, and fiber source, and you’ll be charging ahead. Just 2 tablespoons should give you around 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, helping you kick your hunger to the curb.
4)Beans: The amount of fiber in beans promotes a slow and steady rise and fall in blood glucose levels, which helps stabilize energy levels. Beans are also packed with magnesium, which is good for body relaxation and energy preservation.
Note: Beware! While the high amounts of fiber in beans is digestion-friendly, consuming excessive amounts could upset the stomach.
5)Sardines: Sardines usually have mixed reviews, but if you happen to be someone that loves them, you’ve hit the jackpot. Sardines are probably one of the richest sources of vitamin B12, a nutrient essential for helping convert food into energy. Additionally, the protein content in sardines can help stabilize blood sugar levels and its omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce fatigue-inducing inflammation. Perfect for a quick jolt to get you back on your feet!
6) Quinoa: Quinoa has been around for thousands of years. This ancient grain is one of the most protein-packed foods out there. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and is rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and riboflavin, which helps convert food into energy.
Tip: Get creative! Quinoa is perfect in burgers, salads, and even your oatmeal mix.
7)Almonds: Almonds are an excellent source of protein and contain a healthy dose of heart-boosting fat. They also contain lots of manganese, copper, vitamin B2, and phosphorus. Copper helps boost energy on a cellular level; manganese is a key agent in fat and carbohydrate metabolism control, and Vitamin B2 is one of eight B vitamins that help the body convert food into fuel. In other words, the perfect on-the-go snack.
8)Water: Don’t forget your water. Ever. It’s essential. Drinking water in sincerely one of the easiest ways to rev up your energy level. Drinking water first thing in the morning can help kickstart your metabolism and even give you a better rush than coffee since we’re usually dehydrated when we wake up.
Suggestion: Try adding a hint of lemon, lime juice, orange to your water – the hints of citrus are known to aid in digestion and help flush out bodily toxins.
9)Collagen: The new must-have in nutrition. Collagen Peptide supplements can help drastically improve athletic performance. It can support the synthesis of creatine, which provides energy to help build muscle strength, size, and power. A huge source of protein and packed with amino acids, collagen supplements can also help eliminate hunger and speed up metabolism. Post-workout, it promotes bone and joint health and can help cut down physical recovery time. Outside of the gym, collagen peptides also work as a great digestive aid and anti-aging tool while simultaneously promoting better sleep (a true next-day benefit). Perfect for your morning coffee, your oats, or as the protein substitute in your smoothie. Bottom-line: this a superfood you don’t want to miss.
Tip: For maximum absorption, take alongside a dose of Vitamin C.
When it comes to working out, maintaining a healthy body is the key to getting the most out of your exercise. Remember, your body is a machine and for you to keep the engine running properly, you’ll have to give it the attention and care it needs!